Choose your candidate

The Washington Post website has an interactive "choose your candidate" tool that purports to show you which candidate you should be supporting, based on their public statements on a variety of issues, and how important you say these issues are.  I spent some time playing with it, and it mostly demonstrated to me how close the Democratic candidates are on most of the issues that I care about.  If you can parse the differences between what they’re all saying on Social Security or immigration, you’re doing better than I am.  And while the tool lets you say how much you care about the issue in general, it doesn’t have any way for you to indicate how much you care about the differences in the candidates’ positions.  I think I gave up on it about halfway through, when it was saying I should be supporting Chris Dodd.

Precisely because the candidates are so close together on policy, the areas where they disagree, even a little, are getting a lot of attention, perhaps excessive.  One of the areas where some differences have shown up is on health care.  Kucinich is the only one standing up for a true single payor system, while Obama has criticized Edwards and Clinton for requiring everyone to get health insurance.  He’s dead wrong on this — both because you really do need to get everyone into the insurance pool in order to avoid people freeloading until they actually get sick, and because the attack on "mandates" is likely to come back and haunt him if he actually gets elected.  (I don’t have the energy to go hunting for a full set of links right now, but this has been exhaustively discussed in the wonkosphere. )

So, on one of the few areas of substantive difference, I think Obama’s wrong.  But I still think he’s my pick.  I’m embarrassed by that.  I’m a self-proclaimed policy wonk.  But he makes me want to believe. 


On a related topic, this week you’ll see an ad in my sidebar from the fine folks at, who have asked all the candidates about what they’d do to fight international poverty and disease. Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity is a similar exercise focused on domestic poverty.  Check them both out.

3 Responses to “Choose your candidate”

  1. K Says:

    I picked Obama too…but now I’m wavering back towards Edwards.
    Doesn’t really matter though. By the time we vote here in Wisconsin, mostly likely it will already be decided. That’s the one thing I don’t really like about the primary system.

  2. jen Says:

    Elizabeth, did you happen to read Krugman’s column about Obama essentially not being tough enough to deal with big business? It did give me pause.
    I’ve been vacillating this entire race, feeling like I should be supporting Hillary as a feminist thing, feeling like any good Chicagoan should be all about Obama. My mother — who is a minister in Iowa, of all things — has an Edwards sticker on her car, and has for months. I had originally blown him off as unelectable but this piece got me thinking, big time.

  3. Christine Says:

    Although I am in fervent support of Hillary due to my gender, I do like Richardson. I took the poll and found that I agree with him the most with a huge gap in percentage. I really liked what he said during the democratic debates, but I feel like I would be betraying my gender to not vote for Hillary. This is a tough election for Dem voters because in order for Hillary or Barack to win they have to shift over to the middle or take on some of the traditional white male president attributes and I don’t think that is who they are innately.

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